UV water treatment for “brain-eating” amoeba (N. fowleri)

The role of any public water treatment facility, be it city, town, or municipality, is to deliver water to your home that is fit for drinking. Point-of-entry water treatment in your home, like an ultraviolet (UV) disinfection system, provides an additional barrier to ensure the quality of water at every tap in the home and for every purpose.

Why every tap matters

Naegleria fowleri is an amoeba, or single-celled living organism which causes a serious brain infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) that, while very rare, is often fatal. Consuming water contaminated with N. fowleri is not an issue as it is destroyed by stomach acid. Instead, it enters the body through the nose where it then migrates to the brain via the olfactory nerve. Since the organism is normally found in warm waters, infections are most often associated with swimming/diving in recreational waters – but not always! Cases have been linked to contaminated tap water entering the nose during nasal rinsing such as with a neti pot. Accidental exposures to N. fowleri, especially involving children, are also possible where the head is immersed in contaminated water or contaminated water goes up the nose during:

  • Bathing or showering;
  • Swimming in “kiddie pools” filled with tap water;
  • Unsupervised play with outdoor hose bibs or sprinklers.

Where does N. fowleri occur?

Incidents of N. fowleri being detected in North American water distribution systems have only occurred in the warm climates of Louisiana (2013) and Texas (2020). However, cases of PAM have been reported in a wider geography including 15 southern states, as well as Minnesota, Kansas, and Indiana. No water distribution system is immune to pipe breaks or pressure fluctuations that could allow an environmental contaminant like N. fowleri access. If the water temperature is warm and disinfectant levels are low, it could colonize and put water users at risk.

How to treat for Naegleria fowleri

In implementing water treatment for N. fowleri the goal should be a 4-log reduction of the cysts. UV disinfection is a chemical-free approach that will not alter the taste or odour of the water. Trojan Technologies provides a range of UV systems to meet the needs of homes, businesses or public water systems. Learn more about our brands here.

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